It was an exhausting couple of days, but reflecting back on the recently completed Annual Spring Meeting, I am left with the feeling that it was a resounding success. For many, myself included, the focus was on networking and business development. The vast array of wonderful continuing education opportunities was also not to be missed, as top notch, international speakers descended on Toronto to share their wealth of experience.
No visit to such a conference like the ASM would be complete without wandering the numerous and various aisles on the trade show floor. Here was your opportunity to discover the latest in technological offerings from long established, dental industry leaders as well newer companies looking to gain a foothold in a competitive industry.
It is easy to get lost in the abundance of booths on the floor. Try as you might to make sure you visit each one, missing some seems inevitable as you endeavour to prioritize between the various entities all promising to improve the patient experience and quality of care while simultaneously improving your efficiency and profitability.
Sadly, some of the most important booths to visit are the very ones that are easiest to miss. Their physical space is smaller. Their displays less grandiose. Their numbers in their booths are smaller, often both in terms of staff and visitors. If you do not look for them, they simply may not possess an impactful presence.
The reason for this is simple…they make no promises about improving your quality of life as a dentist. There is no tremendous financial advantage or benefit they can offer from their products or services. They will do nothing to enhance the patient experience you provide.
That is because they are non-profit entities…entities whose existence is focussed on helping those who are far less fortunate than virtually any of us on the floor. While there were many worthy organizations in attendance, the one that I found myself most drawn toward was Restoring Smiles.
Their mission is to help women who have been victims of domestic abuse and are living in shelters to provide them with free dental work…to provide them with a reason to smile…to provide them with a chance to restart their lives in a more positive direction.
Their booth was manned by one paid, dedicated, non-profit employee, entirely new to the world of dentistry, and two volunteer dental students. What they may have lacked in experience they more than made up for in enthusiasm.
It was heartening to visit them on the second day and discover that this event had allowed them to double the number of volunteer dentists in their network…dentists who recognized the importance of their wonderful work and wanted to help.
So far, Restoring Smiles is mostly located in the Toronto area exclusively. Sadly, they know the need for this work is not restricted to Toronto, and they hope to grow so that they can extend their reach to helping women in other communities.
Helping such a wonderful organization seems like a no-brainer to me. And, of course, there are so many other groups out there doing equally wonderful work that need our support. It certainly would not be for me to suggest one is more worthy than another.
Because, at the end of the day, our greatest legacy will come not from what we built for ourselves, but what we did for others. I was so fortunate to meet the people at Restoring Smiles and to allow them to remind me of the true reason why we do what we do!